Capt. Molly Kool's ashes spread over Bay of Fundy
The ashes of New Brunswick native Molly Kool were spread over the Bay of Fundy on Sunday, honouring the dying wish of North America's first female sea captain.
Kool, who died in February at the age of 93, had always wished for a proper captain's burial at sea, which her friends and family carried out.
Kool's ashes were taken out in a lobster fishing boat and scattered just a few nautical miles off the coast of the tiny southern New Brunswick fishing village of Alma.
Joannie Carlisle, a close friend of Kool's in her later years, said she was a sea captain who never forgot her roots.
"Every time we would come here, I would see how much this meant to Molly to be in Alma and to be back home and just to be a part of the ocean," Carlisle said.
Kool died in her home in Bangor, Me. The two friends often visited New Brunswick and looked out at the waters where Kool once navigated in her father's boat the Jean K.
"Molly would sit and look out over the bay, and she made me promise her [that] I would bring her home, that when she passed away that she was put back to the sea," Carlisle said.
"She loved the sea, never was out of her blood, always talked about coming home."
Earned sea captain's ticket in 1939
Kool received her master's ticket in April 1939 and was named the first female skipper in North America.
Carlisle said her friend often talked about both the difficult days aboard the Jean K. and her favourite moments.
"She would love listening to the creak of the boat and the waves splashing up," Carlisle said.
"That was her favourite time was under sail, when they had to be towing the gravel or the lumber, that was hard work."
Capt. Jim Wood, a friend of Kool's who agreed to take her family out on his boat for the ceremony, said he could appreciate the difficulty in working with the world's highest tides in the Bay of Fundy.
He said it's hard to imagine what Kool faced without the help of modern technology.
"This was a difficult job she had, not like sailing these modern small boats equipped with all the electronics, but an older vessel steering by compass, by watch, by time. You really had to be aware, you had to know what you were doing," Wood said.
A permanent memorial for Kool has been installed near the water's edge in Alma. Local historians are raising money to move Kool's family home down into the village as a permanent historic site.